How to Take Care of Heirloom Furniture

Preventing Damage to Heirloom Furniture from Everyday Use and Moving

There's a right way and a wrong way to use furniture. Since you want to preserve your heirloom piece, you'll have to make sure that both you and others use it correctly. One simple tip is to use furniture as it's meant to be used. We often casually lean against the arm of a sofa or use the coffee table as a place to sit if nowhere else is available. But since neither of these places is really designed to support your body weight, you could cause structural damage to your furniture over time.

It's also important to protect surfaces. Use throws or slipcovers on upholstered furniture if you're concerned about the kind of damage that pets or children (or sloppy adults) can cause. Invest in some coasters for cold glasses and hot coffee mugs -- cold, wet items can leave cloudy spots on the finish, and hot items can actually melt it. If you can avoid this kind of misuse, you can definitely prolong the life of your heirloom furniture.

If you're moving furniture from room to room, or moving house, there are some basic steps you can take to avoid damaging your furniture:

  • Measure ahead of time and make sure that it will fit through the doorway of its designated room.
  • Check for obstructions like existing furniture and low-hanging light fixtures.
  • Never drag a piece of furniture across the floor; you'll potentially damage both the furniture's legs and your floor.
  • Pick it up its strongest element. For example, a table should be picked up by its legs, not its top.
  • If you have to put furniture in a moving van, make sure it's well padded.
  • Remove any drawers or other loose elements.
  • If there is removable glass or marble, take it out and wrap it separately.
  • Lay big pieces such as dressers flat on their backs.
  • When you are walking the piece to its new home, go slowly and cautiously. Taking a little extra time can make all the difference.

We'll look at the environmental enemies of heirloom furniture and how to deal with them, next.